Overwatch 2 continues the story of Overwatch by getting the band back together
The Overwatch 2 announcement cinematic, Zero Hour crystallizes the new narrative of the Overwatch storyline going forward: namely, when faced against the overwhelming threat of an omnic invasion force, Winston jumps into the fight with only Tracer and Mei by his side. When the tables turn against them, though, it’s time for former members of the Overwatch organization — Reinhardt, Mercy, Genji, and Echo, and newcomer Brigitte — to join the fight in the nick of time. It’s an all-out invasion of evil killer robots, but now there’s a line of heroes ready to save the day.
This is what many of the previously-released Overwatch animated shorts have been building towards: Winston’s own desire to put the organization back together, combined with individual stories introducing these other heroes and situating them to make that comeback. And nothing drives home the idea that these heroes work better together as a team than this — in order to defeat the Null Sector behemoth, they have to combine many of their unique abilities. Mei strapping Tracer’s pulse bomb to her cryogenerator, which gets pitched by Winston so Tracer can make the delivery while Genji and Echo clear the path and Brigitte and Reinhardt play defense… this right here is a visual demonstration of Overwatch as a cooperative experience.
Compare this with the original Overwatch announcement cinematic, where Winston and Tracer were squared off against Reaper and Widowmaker. In that case, we’re showcasing not only the world in which the game takes place, but also the idea of these superhero-like characters going head to head. The notion of Overwatch as a player-vs-player game is very well demonstrated by that original cinematic, which is echoed by later cinematics like Dragons and Reunion.
It’s a big deal that Zero Hour is about the team coming together. Because more than anything, it tells us that the story here isn’t about putting the old Overwatch back together again — the dropship gets blown up, the memories within it burned away — but putting together a new Overwatch to fight against the threats facing the world right now.
We get some additional details about the story in the gameplay trailer:
- Lucio is fighting to save his city of Rio de Janeiro from Null Sector, and cheerfully accepts the assistance of Overwatch.
- Torbjorn (accompanied by Bastion) is pulled into fighting against Null Sector’s omnic production by Reinhardt and Brigitte.
- Genji visits Zenyatta.
- An omnic (potentially the one who listened to Doomfist’s proposal at the end of the Storm Rising Archives event) seems reluctant to continue accepting Talon’s help, but Doomfist is insistent. “You’ve made your choice. Nobody will stop us.”
All of this presages an emphasis on moving the story forward in Overwatch 2 in a way that we didn’t see in the first game — and that has everything to do with the first game being very light on telling a story in-game and relegating it to the animated shorts and comics. Hearing later during the Overwatch: What’s Next panel that story missions would have a cinematic intro and outro (similar to the Retribution and Storm Rising events) is a great way to demonstrate that Overwatch 2 is going to be a story-driven game. The fact that it’ll still house the competitive PvP teamfighting that’s been the hallmark of the game since release is important, but now is the time when all of the worldbuilding and character building and layered narrative of the franchise so far is going to start delivering forward momentum.
It’s an exciting time. As we learn more, you’ll see it here.
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